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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Alexandra Lebenthal, President and CEO of Lebenthal & Company and its multi family office Alexandra & James

Alexandra Lebenthal is the President and CEO of Lebenthal & Company and its multi family office Alexandra & James.  She comes from a storied Wall Street family. Her grandparents, Louis and Sayra Lebenthal, founded Lebenthal & Co., Inc, a municipal bond specialist, in 1925.  Her grandmother worked until age 93. She followed her father, James Lebenthal, as the company spokesperson. She joined Lebenthal in 1988 and became President and CEO in 1995 at the age of 31. Ms Lebenthal remained at the firm for four years after its sale, leaving in 2005 before starting anew in 2006.
This new venture is the second chapter of the Lebenthal family and in addition to Municipal Bonds also has as its primary focus a “Multi Family Office” which acts as a personal CFO for the “Lost Affluent™”, investors with $2 million to $20 million in assets.
As a recognizable woman on Wall Street she is a frequent commentator on television and makes frequent appearances in the media.
Professional involvement includes acting as a director of Broadridge Financial Solutions. She is also the treasurer of The Securities Industry Financial Markets Organization (SIFMA), Ms. Lebenthal is a member of The Committee of 200, a leading organization for female businesswomen. She is also actively involved with several leading New York cultural institutions including Board member of The School of American Ballet, Business Council of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,  Capital Campaign for the Museum of the City of New York, Gala Chair for The 2009 Rita Hayworth Alzheimer’s Association Gala, and Co-Chair of the Botanical Garden Winter Wonderland Ball as well as a member of its Advisory Council.
Ms. Lebenthal is also a contributing editor for and has written her first novel THE RECESSIONISTAS, due in August 2010 from Grand Central Books.  Whom You Know will be reviewing that.
A passionate supporter of women in business in 1999 she was named one of New York’s 100 most influential women by Crain’s New York Business and one of the top 50 Women in Wealth Management in 2009 by Wealth Manager Magazine.
She is also the Co-founder and current board member of “The Women’s Executive Circle,” a group of high-profile Jewish Women that mentor other women under the auspices of United Jewish Appeal.
A graduate of Princeton University in 1986, with an A.B. in history, Ms. Lebenthal began her career in the municipal bond department at Kidder Peabody Inc.
Ms. Lebenthal lives in New York City with her husband, Jay Diamond and their children, Benjamin, Charlotte and Eleanor.  We are pleased to present Alexandra Lebenthal as our latest Mover and Shaker.  Incidentally, Peachy Deegan spent many years in municipal bonds in her other endeavors.
Peachy Deegan interviewed Alexandra Lebenthal for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: How did you start as a writer?
Alexandra Lebenthal: I started writing a column on in 2008. My first columns were fairly dry financial columns and then, shortly after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, I had lunch with David Patrick Columbia who is the editor in chief. He spoke to me about the perspective I had on both Wall Street and New York Society and said that was what people really wanted to hear about. After that, it was easy to write about the financial world.

Is NYSD your first professional writing endeavor? 
I had written a few articles over the years but this was the first regular assignment.

What did you enjoy the most about writing Recessionistas? 
It was fun to use both my knowledge as well as my imagination to tell the story of what happened to a group of fictional people during the real events of 2008.

What did you find most challenging about writing Recessionistas? 
I wanted the story to be entertaining as well as real. There were some times when it was hard to do both, so in a few cases, fiction won out over reality.

What do you know now about writing a book that you wish you knew before you began Recessionistas? 
It takes a lot longer! I wish I had more time to further develop the character and the story.

We think a lot of lost and affluent read Whom You Know.  What would you say to them? 
It’s important to read a lot of different publications and websites to truly be educated about the world around you.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
My father. His passion and enthusiasm spread to me.

What are you proudest of and why? 
I am most proud of the book because so many people say they want to but don’t. I actually did it!

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do? 
There are a lot of things actually. I never worked in trading which I always secretly wanted to do. I think being in private equity or venture capital would be fascinating. I also love fashion and part of me wishes I had gone into that business.
What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
Actually a fair number including the Working Mother  Magazine Small Business Champion, The UJA Wall Street Division Young  Leadership Award and the Citizens Union Business Award.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
My apartment – or at a fun party
What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 
Bergdorf Goodman
What is your favorite drink? 
Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet Bellini with lots of ice in a big wine class.
What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
San Pietro
What is your favorite Manhattan book? 
The Recessionistas!
If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
Anything in Central Park. It’s so amazing to have it right outside all of our doors and is gorgeous in every season.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Running the NYC Marathon- Twice
What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
Take my daughter to skating lessons at Wollman Rink in the winter.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
Seeing the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden
What do you think is most underrated and overrated here? 
I'm not sure about underrated but the NYC bus system is amazing- I love taking the bus!
What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
I still struggle like everyone else and feel that my best achievements are still ahead of me.
How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers? 

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